I realize this outs me as a huge bread geek (as if A Year in Bread hadn't already) but I found the coolest little formula today. It's a quick way to convert the quantity of yeast in a regular bread recipe to make it using a longer, slower rising process.
Being a huge fan of bread that spends its first night in the refrigerator, I am probably inordinately excited by this - and no doubt everyone else already knew this bit of math - but I just had to share.
I think every baker needs a few never-fail recipes in their back pocket. Recipes that they can play with endlessly with a fair degree of certainty of success. This recipe is a variation of one of my standby recipes: a poolish baguette from Peter Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice. If I had to pick just a few breads to bake all the time, this would be one of them. In its original form, it makes wonderful baguettes and is well suited to being shaped for breads like epis and I have been able to corrupt... err, vary it pretty endlessly over the years.
In fact — confession time — I once made a double batch of this bread. Except I didn't double the yeast. And I tripled the oil. (don't ask, it was late, I was rushed and had no business driving a KitchenAid...) As I kneaded the dough, stumbling my way through a series of "this feels all wrong" corrections, I slowly figured out how badly I had screwed up. Ever the good food writer, I trudged on, determined to take photos for an article titled "How to waste two pounds of flour" that I would write someday. Except for one problem: the bread was fine. It wasn't great, but it was good. This recipe earned its place in my back pocket that day.
For reasons perhaps best explained by marketing, a lot of kids — even those who usually make sane food choices — seem to prefer bland, white bread. Sandwiches, toast, pretty much anything has to be white bread, but especially sandwiches. And kids eat lots of sandwiches.
This potato bread recipe is one I made for the first time way back when theKid craved that stuff that came in the blue, yellow and red dotted bags - you know, the stuff that makes you Wonder who buys it. The potato tenderizes the dough and amps up the yeasty rising action, creating bread that is softly chewy with a bit more substance than most white breads.
Sometimes it is, as the kids say, all about the boy.
We all know people who have done odd things for love: ran up multi-thousand phone bills, changed names and careers, moved to a city they would never have considered otherwise, or tried to replicate a mass-market loaf of bread.
This week at A Year in Bread, I make bread for the boy...
It's too hot to bake!
Well, almost too hot to bake. This month at A Year in Bread we are focusing on quick breads, with Kevin's scrumptious Cheese Bread starting us out. My post is going up tomorrow, but there is a subtle hint here somewhere about the recipe. If I could just remember where I put it.
Over at A Year in Bread, one of my other playgrounds, I just posted my recipe for the current round of "summer breads": Pesto Rolls. Made like a savory cinnamon roll, but with baguette-ish dough, pesto and Parmesan, these are great for summer picnics where slicing and buttering is a hassle but plain bread is boring. I absolutely adore these things and start making them every summer as soon as I can get my hands on basil. Read the rest and get the recipe here. I also put up a flickr set of action photos taken while making them...and clutching a camera remote in my teeth. (yes, really)
Many people, even accomplished cooks, approach yeasted bread with more than a bit of trepidation. While the vision of a beautifully risen loaf of bread with a glossy, caramelized crust lures many a would-be baker, the reality all too often remains sadly out of reach.
I think the fact that there are so few ingredients-flour, water, yeast, and salt are essential, all else is embellishment-is intimidating. It seems to put so much responsibility on the baker. Daunting.
Depending on how you go about learning to bake bread, the process can be daunting. Bread baking has its own terminology (some in French), techniques that look simple can be anything but, and who knew there were so many kinds of flour? It is little wonder that many people don't even know where to start. If only they had someone to tell them...
Seriously, that's where you start: Pizza.
I see pizza is the perfect starter bread for a number of reasons:
The first step in your pizza quest is trying out some crust recipes. I have three suggestions: Kevin Weeks, Farmgirl Susan, and mine. They each offer a different take on pizza crust, both in process and results. Susan's dough is quick and particularly easy to work with, although Kevin's is seriously good too and worth waiting the extra hours for. Mine is...different. Check them out. Then come back and show us what you made.
It all started with this chat message from Farmgirl Susan to me: “We’re plotting something...and it involves you!” I got her to tell me that "we" meant her and Kevin of Seriously Good. This was immediately followed by Susan dropping offline, which should have been my first clue this wasn’t going to be easy.
Ten minutes later, she was back.
me: oh sure, you tell me there's some plot that involves me afoot and then you drop offline... see how you are... :)
farmgirl: I didn't drop offline!
me: Chat said you were offline.
farmgirl: Computers lie, you should know that!
me: So what's the plot? Are you going to tell me or do I have to torture poor little Bowtie? (Bowtie is Farmgirl’s virtual cat, who lives with me and I am not above torturing his adorable face...usually by rubbing his belly or something equally dreadful.)
farmgirl: Don't you dare! I'll be right back! Geez! Thug!
me: But he's got such cute little toes! ...and ears! ...and what do you mean "be right back?" You just got here!
farmgirl: DO NOT EAT MY CAT!
me: He's getting HUGE! It's either eat him or feed him. Eating him would be cheaper!
farmgirl: I repeat: DO NOT EAT MY CAT!
me: someoneElse says he’d be great with lemon and pepper. Yum! Plus he (Bowtie, not someoneElse) hangs out under the rosemary so he's herb-infused. Wouldn’t that cost extra at most places?
farmgirl: someoneElse says everything is great with lemon and pepper! Probably even brownies.
me: someoneElse says he's a very good cat. Congratulations on raising him so well
farmgirl: No problem! Oh! Email from Kevin! Be right back.
me: Be right back? Be right back! Oh sure, you go talk to Kevin… But me...you leave
farmgirl: oh give me a break
me: Sure! Arm or leg? Man you have a mouthy cat! Bowtie is in the other room just mrowing away. Sure I can’t cook him?
farmgirl: If you ever want to find out what the plot is, do not eat my cat!
me: So send me the mail already! I want to bake bread!!! ...or eat a cat...
farmgirl: Oh okay! Hold on! Geez!
Impatient little thing, aren't we?
Barrettes on too tight?
Somebody drop a house on your sister?
me: That's it! Brownie withdrawals...or maybe it was the house thing.
farmgirl: oh! another email from Kevin! be right back!
This went on for the better part of an hour, ending when Susan dropped offline again. It took until the next day for me to actually pin both Susan and Kevin down to chat...
...meet the three us at A Year in Bread on the 21st for the rest of the story...